02 Feb Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead
A deliciously dark locked room mystery
Today is publication day for Death and the Conjuror!
Fans of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot are going to love Tom Mead’s detective conjuror, the enigmatic Joseph Spector, who has won fame and fortune for his sleight of hand and is beloved by the entertainment industry.
We meet him in 1936 at The Pomegranate Theatre in London where impresario Benjamin Teasel is preparing to put on a performance of Miss Death, starring Della Cookson.
The stage is set for the murder of one of the cast or crew – but then the setting changes, to the home of Dr Anselm Rees, a renowned Austrian psychiatrist who has recently moved to London with his daughter Lydia, a fiery intellectual determined to follow in her father’s footsteps.
It seems their only connection with the theatre is to attend the first night of Miss Death.
But the following night, Death comes to their home when housekeeper Mrs Turner finds Dr Rees dead in his locked study, his throat cut.
Inspector George Flint enlists Spector’s help to solve the case, which involves tracking down and interviewing three mystery patients … one of whom is Della Cookson.
Linked to the case is a missing painting from Benjamin Teasel’s house – a painting that has disappeared from a locked room on the same evening of Dr Rees’ murder.
Della Cookson is implicated in its theft – can she be responsible for both crimes?
And if so, how on earth did she achieve the seemingly impossible?
Can Spector solve the mystery of the locked room murder?
In the tradition of the finest detective stories, we follow Flint and Spector as they piece together the events of the night, questioning suspects who are hiding more than they want to admit, establishing – or demolishing – alibis, and trying to make sense of the seemingly impossible.
I love reading a good detective mystery, trying to pick up the clues, but I was as baffled as poor Inspector Flint by this case! So I just chose to just sit back and enjoy the atmosphere of this entertaining story.
It’s dramatic and suspenseful with colourful characters who are skilfully drawn and spring to life from the page, from the mysterious Spector himself to the cocky lift-boy at one of the suspect’s apartment home.
Each has his or her part to play in the unfolding drama – no person and no detail is wasted in the cleverly plotted narrative.
Despite the gruesomeness of the murder which, in good old-fashioned tried and trusted formula, is followed up by another, there’s also a gentle humour to this story as characters dance around each other, and Joseph Spector observes them all, waiting for them to make mistakes.
They think they’ve got themselves covered – but none has his talent for misdirection.
With no clues as to his background, or how he has become involved in criminal investigations, Spector reminds me of another Agatha Christie investigator – the mysterious Harley Quinn.
The case solved, he fades into the background, but I think he’ll be making a reappearance under Tom Mead’s skilful pen.
About the Author
Tom Mead is a UK crime fiction author specialising in locked-room mysteries. He is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association and the International Thriller Writers’ Organization. His debut novel is Death and the Conjuror, featuring magician-detective Joseph Spector.
Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blogtour and to publishers Head of Zeus/Aries for the copy of the book.
Catch up with the rest of the blogtour at the links on the poster
More Excellent Detective Murder Mystery Reviews